A sampling of Mittermeier’s work, this shot is only one of a host of visuals on display. (photo SeaLegacy)

Photographer comes home

Founder of SeaLegacy shares her love of the world’s oceans

After travelling the world, Cristina Mittermeier has returned home for a special presentation at the Mary Winspear Centre; a presentation she hopes will inspire the same love for the ocean and concern for the environment that has defined her life.

The presentation, entitled “The Water’s Edge” takes the audience on a journey of discovery and wonder and features spectacular photography gathered by Mittermeier in some of the most isolated corners of the planet, but the message is that all life in the sea is interconnected and it all has an impact upon the planet as a whole.

“Every other breath we take comes from the ocean. What we do or fail to do in the next five years will determine what our oceans and planet look like for the next ten thousand years,” explained Mittermeier.

“It’s why I give these presentations and why I’ve set up the SeaLegacy organization to advocate for the health of the oceans.”

Mittermeier founded the organization with fellow photographer Paul Nicklen in 2014 after working as a freelance photographer, gathering images for organizations like National Geographic, the Conservation Foundation and the Wildlife Foundation.

SeaLegacy is a registered nonprofit society in Canada and is also under the fiscal sponsorship of the WILD Foundation, a 501c3 organization based in Colorado, USA.

The membership is a dynamic mix of full-time, part-time, and volunteers; including social entrepreneurs, strategists, editors, designers, developers, and social media experts.

“We know that we are swimming against the tide at times in a world that has damaged the environment and our oceans so dramatically, but we tell a story that sparks a global conversation and that story can inspire people to act,” said Mittermeier.

“It’s a chance for people to join with the hundreds of thousands of people around the world who are moving that needle – who are becoming galvanized to action. I have to hope that it’s going to make a difference.”

Mittermeier has taken her photographs and inspirational message to more than 25 cities in the past year, but feels a special connection to Sidney and the Salish Sea.

“I was born here on the Island, and the people here are among the most environmentally conscious and concerned people anywhere. It’s great to come home and present my message here before I start to travel again.”

Along with her work with the SeaLegacy organization and her speaking tour, Mittermeier continues to enter the water to gather more visuals , documenting the wonders of the oceans and the issues that threaten to destroy the ecosystems upon which we all rely.

“Eighty percent of fisheries are over-fished or collapsing. Pollution is choking sea birds, seals, and whales. Vast areas of reef are dying rapidly, and species from plankton to polar bears face precipitous decline.” reads the SeaLegacy website.

“From the air we breathe, to the food we eat, to the climate we live in, we all depend on our oceans. Today, they are more important than ever. Healthy oceans absorb carbon from the atmosphere and help reduce the impact of climate change.”

Mittermeier has just completed a shark project off the coast of Mexico and, in a few weeks, will be diving into the Salish Sea to work on capturing images that display the wonders found , just below the surface.

Asked about her most memorable moments under the waves, Mittermeiers voice drops.

“I was in the Azores and had a chance to dive with blue whales,” she recalled in a whisper.

“I could barely breathe. It was so awe inspiring to be there in the water with the largest animal on the planet…just so humbling.”

Her presentation at Mary Winspear will take place on Aug. 25 at 7 p.m. Tickets are available on-line at marywinspear.ca/event/cristina-mittermeier-waters-edge.

For more information on SeaLegacy, visit sealegacy.org.

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